Can Meditation Be Harmful?

July 30, 2009 by  

These days it is pretty common knowledge that meditation is good for you, it’s scientifically proven.  But is there any way in which meditation can be harmful for you?

Meditation is a form of self exploration. Because the majority of who we are lies in the subconscious mind, meditation is in many ways a bridge between the conscious and subconscious. As our subconscious mind contains all past experience – meaning every life we have ever lived, there can be, and in my experience, both personally and professionally, is, an array of dark and painful experiences in there. And herein lies the potential hazard of meditation.

Let me clearly qualify how and why this hazard can become harmful.

If you are dabbling in meditation and trying out all kinds of different practices and techniques without really understanding what you are doing. Worse than this is if you actually start mixing them together.

Hazard because you are basically playing with your own mind, and it’s vast array of hidden unknowns. There are many esoteric meditation techniques designed to access, stimulate, awaken even purge energies in your system. Your ‘system’ is your subconscious mind, your body is your subconscious mind. These kinds of practices are not intended for beginners, many not even for those who are not exclusively dedicating their time to spiritual practice. Today in our potpourri of spiritual materialism, when such practices can be found by anyone in books, this is a real issue.

If you are new to meditation or haven’t yet done much inner work and self exploration, and you start meditating for long periods of time.

The potential harm in this is that dark and painful things hidden in the subconscious mind can surface suddenly and with great force. This can be very challenging to one who has already done much inner work, to one who hasn’t, it could cause serious mental imbalance. You might think I am exaggerating, but in India I have seen it happen. It can be exacerbated when the person stops taking care of the basic necessities of food and sleep as well.

Meditation is also a bridge to the core of who we are, our inner wisdom, higher self, soul, spirit, call it as you will. When we are able to access this deeper truth of what we are and follow it’s intuitive guidance, we are unlikely to run into such problems as I have outlined. We are also unlikely to get caught in the rigidity and rules that can also accompany spiritual teachers and practices, when they do not align with what is helpful and healthy for us. Each one of us walk a unique path of spiritual evolution, besides perhaps a perfect master, only our own true nature knows the precise process of that unfolding. Meditation can be one of the most useful tools on this journey.

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3 Responses to “Can Meditation Be Harmful?”

  1. Kara-Leah on August 2nd, 2009 12:17 pm

    Yep – it’s true, and it happened to me, big time.

    At the same time, I wouldn’t want people to be scared off meditation because they think it’s too “dangerous”.

    There really is no substitute for studying under a knowledgeable and wise teacher, who can help one avoid the perils and pitfalls of the spiritual path.


  2. Ray Baskerville on August 2nd, 2009 3:40 pm

    Thanks for your comment Kara.

    It might be helpful to other readers if you could share a little more of your experience. I ask this to ensure there is contextual understanding of what you are saying and therefore people will not feel scared off, but informed of how to proceed and what to avoid.

    Thanks & Blessings

  3. andrew on June 16th, 2010 2:26 pm

    Meditation is challenging. At present, I do it as a matter of duty to myself, my dependents (I am a father, and I need to keep my mind in a good state), and to Life itself. It is, however, the most challenging thing I have to do all day. That is because of my habitually overactive mind, and my tendency to live ‘half-asleep’ much of the time, ‘lost in thought’.
    I would encourage anyone to do it, but as was mentioned above, to seek out informed guidance. A knife can heal (as in surgery), or it can harm (if used incorrectly). We do indeed live in an age of the ‘spiritual supermarket’, where many practices formerly only given to initiates who were deemed to be ready (usually for good reason!), are now available at any good bookstore. Be careful with your mind, it is the most precious thing you have. So if you are a beginner, it is good to try some of the more peace-inducing meditations to begin with, like breath meditation (I just did this myself, and I’m not a beginner…just someone who needs peace!).